At the 2023 Community Rebellion Conference, Tiphaine Cuisset, Senior Marketing Manager, Community Operations at HubSpot spoke about the creation and evolution of community operations at HubSpot.
The HubSpot Community was launched in 2016, originally created to move customer support to a more scalable model. With only a few community moderators from the support team and one program manager, it was running in a very bare bones model. In the current day, the community team sits under marketing and supports all existing and prospective users. The community also spans outside of just the product and is a community of practice, allowing members to talk about general industry best practices outside of HubSpot specifically.
Since its inception, there was operational support throughout all initiatives and programs. However, up until 2022, there was no designated community operations team or person. Tiphaine mentions it was, “operating in chaos.” Though both herself and her other team members were doing operations every day, there was no designated role or distinction for it; in fact, “operations” was never mentioned as a job.
The issue with this model was everyone on the team was doing operations in their own way, in essence losing a center of excellence. You can also lose control over your own operations which can lead to complications. Between documentation, reporting, development, filing bugs, training, automations, analysis, systems, tasks, and all the other things that fall into community operations, it can really cause chaos to have each running on its own.
Tiphaine eventually became the go-to person for operational items - it was what she was good at and what she enjoyed. Learning that community operations was an official role and what it entailed, Tiphaine worked on prioritizing what the most important items were without an official operations team. They decided to focus on customer facing items (like UX), product usage (general product experience and the bridge between the product team and your community), and scalability (making sure what you do for one community member can easily be applied to hundreds).
Tiphaine then went into a few examples of initiatives she worked on before the operations team was created:
- Archiving - remove duplicate, outdated, and disengaged content. Putting in documentation on how and when to archive content, creating an internal process to do so, and ensuring team members were trained on archiving old content.
- Documentation database - find internal and external documentation easily. Building a repository for documentation for all processes on Airtable.
- Forms - improve process for team and community members. Creating a form and process for new inputs from the community members and internal assignments and triaging.
The operations team was finally implemented in early 2023, and Tiphaine then dove into what her day-to-day looks like as an official operations role.
- Tech stack - relationships with vendors and managing the platforms and tools the community team uses.
- Documentation - managing the internal and external documentation for various community processes.
- Processes - finding ways to improve and implement both the member and team member experience.
- Automation - finding ways to save time via automations.
- Web Dev - working with the web development team on any community site changes and improvements.
- Dotted Line - working cross-functionally with other teams, like the data team to create new dashboards.
Another item Tiphaine recently implemented is an Ops Request Form, providing an established process for teams the community supports to ask for help. With the single intake form, it allows her to keep track of the requests coming in, what’s needed, the deadline, and who on the team can help support the request. Created in Asana, it provides transparency and visibility into what the priorities are and helps with team bandwidth.
Additionally, Fix Week is a new process to focus on the ad-hoc asks from the team. During this week, all of the smaller asks or miscellaneous tasks are done. Part of a quarterly sprint, this allows Tiphaine and her team to make sure all the small things or non-urgent items are still taken care of.
Lastly, Tiphaine implemented a vendor search and review process, which provides a structure for reviewing, finding, and assessing new vendors. It includes best practices on how to create trial accounts, doing a vendor analysis with weighted feature comparisons, and also provides a repository of vendors that have been evaluated before.
In closing, Tiphaine stresses that operations will always be here. Regardless of the maturity stage of the community, it’s important to have an operational plan early on and also instill it with your team. Community management and operations skills can be very different, so it’s helpful to have a designated operations person or team to help manage ops across the team, cross-functional stakeholders, and the community itself. Lastly, Tiphaine stresses the importance of documentation for everything. Whether you look to take a vacation, or something happens, documentation is the safety net to ensure nothing gets forgotten or done incorrectly, and allows for easier handoff and visibility.
November 14, 2023
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